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From Gesture to Language in Hearing and Deaf Children

Virginia Volterra and Carol J. Erting, Editors

Publication Year: 2002

In 21 essays on communicative gesturing in the first two years of life, this vital collection demonstrates the importance of gesture in a child’s transition to a linguistic system. Introductions preceding each section emphasize the parallels between the findings in these studies and the general body of scholarship devoted to the process of spoken language acquisition. Renowned scholars contributing to this volume include Ursula Bellugi, Judy Snitzer Reilly, Susan Goldwin-Meadow, Andrew Lock, M. Chiara Levorato, and many others.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page

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pp. v-vi

VIrginia Volterra and Carol Erling have made an important contribution to knowledge with this selection of studies on language acquisition. Collections of studies clustered more or less closely around a topic are plentiful, but this one is unique. Volterra and Erting...

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pp. vii

This book results from the ideas, encouragement, and cooperation of many people. Elizabeth Bates and Ursula BeIJugi urged us to pursue the initial idea, and William Levelt responded enthusiastically when we approached bim·with the proposal. The...

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Preface to 1994 Gallaudet University PressEdition

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pp. ix-xiv

The papers compiled for this volume report on research conducted between 1980 and 1990 on the transition from gesture to language in hearing and deaf children. During the past three...


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pp. xv-xvii

List of Contributors

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pp. 20-23

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pp. 1-4

The aim of this edited collection is to briog together recent research on the use of communicative gesturing in the first 2 years of life as an important step in the child's transition to a linguistic system. Ten years ago, Action, Gesture and Symbol (Lock, 1978) was published...

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PART I Hearing Children with Spoken Language Input

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pp. 5-8

Chapters in this part are concerned with nonverbal activity by normally hearing infants and its relationship to communication and later language development. D'Odorico and Levorato discuss mutual gaze between two mothers and their 3- to ll-month-old infants...

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CHAPTER I Social and Cognitive Determinants of Mutual Gaze Between Mother and Infant

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pp. 9-17

The value of eye contact in social communication is demonstrated by the great number of studies investigating the attractiveness of eyes for human infants (K. Bloom, 1974; Hainline, 1978; Robson, 1967; Samuels, 1985; Wolff, 1961). Mutual visual interaction is in effect the earliest opportunity...

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CHAPTER 2 Gestural Development, Dual-Directional Signaling, and the Transition to Words

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pp. 18-30

Although language researchers have often noted the frequency with which gestures accompany children's first words (e.g., Dore, 1974), only recently have they begun to explore the acquisition ofthese gestures and to inquire into the role they may play in children's transition to early verbal...

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CHAPTER 3 Gestures, Words, and Early Object Sharing

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pp. 31-41

An infant's first gestures and words are a developmental link between communication by "action" and communication by "symbol." Unlike literal acts, their meaning derives at least in part from social convention. Unlike truly symbolic acts, these conventionalized...

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CHAPTER 4 Some Observations on the Origins of the Pointing Gesture

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pp. 42-55

Piaget has observed that an acute observation is worth a thousand statistics. Recent studies of early pre linguistic and linguistic development bear this out. While experimental studies are being increasingly reported, work presenting interpretations of selected observations is still common...

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CHAPTER 5 Communicative Gestures and First Words

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pp. 56-67

In recent years developmental psycholinguistics have taken into consideration the period preceding the acquisition of the verbal language, stressing the fundamental role of gestures used by infants in the process of acquisition (Camaioni, Volterra, & Bates, 1976; Dore, 1974; Lock, 1978, 1980)...

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CHAPTER 6 Sign Language Among Hearing Infants: The Spontaneous Development of Symbolic Gestures

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pp. 68-78

A 15-month-old infant sees something in the corner, points to it, looks at her mother, and then rubs her index fingers together. Her mother smiles and says, "Yes, that is a spider." Another 15-month-old child sees a pattern on his grandmother's dress, points to it, and then...

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CHAPTER 7 Vocal and Gestural Symbols: SimUarities and Differences from 13 to 28 Months

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pp. 79-92

In this paper, we will describe some of the work we have conducted investigating the similarities and differences between symbol use in the vocal and gestural modalities by normal hearing children between 13 and 28 months of age. Interest in the relationship between...

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PART II Deaf Children with Sign Language Input

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pp. 93-96

The five chapters that follow are concerned with deaf children who have deaf parents. American Sign Language (ASL) is the home language of all of the children studied by the researchers, and the infants' first communicative and linguistic experiences occur in...

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CHAPTER 8 The Interactional Context of Deaf Mother-Infant Communication

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pp. 97-106

Early parent-infant interaction has been studied from a variety of perspectives during the past 15 years. Developmental psychologists, pediatricians, and child psychiatrists have been concerned to elucidate the role offace-to-face interaction in the social, emotional and cognitive...

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CHAPTER 9 Acquisition of the Handshape in American Sign Language: A PreUminary Analysis

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pp. 107-127

This is a report of an unpublished pilot study (Boyes Braem, 1973) in which hypotheses abotit stages of acquisition of the handshapes of American Sign Language (ASL) are proposed and are tested against data from one deaf child. The data come from a videotape made by...

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CHAPTER 10 Faces: The Relationship Between Language and Affect

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pp. 128-141

It has often been remarked that a signer's face behaves very differently from that of a person who is speaking. For many first-time observers, signers' faces appear to pass through a rapid series of grimaces and contortions. Why should this be so? In American Sign Language (ASL), facial behaviors function in two distinct ways: to convey emotion (as with...

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CHAPTER 11 The Early Development of Deixis in American Sign Language: What Is the Point?

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pp. 142-152

The purpose of this chapter is to provide evidence on the early development of deictic or "pointing" expressions in children exposed to a gestural-visual or signed language, and to compare this information with analogous information available on hearing children exposed to vocal-auditory..

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CHAPTER 12 The Transition from Gesture to Symbol in American Sign Language

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pp. 153-162

Research on sign languages over the past 20 years has revealed that they exhibit formal linguistic organization at the same levels found in spoken languages (e.g., phonological, morphological, syntactic, discourse). The structure of one sign language, American Sign Language (ASL),...

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PART III Deaf Children Without Sign Language Input

The communicative and linguistic development of deaf children of hearing parents is the subject of chapters included in this part. In previously published studies, Goldin-Meadow and her colleagues reported on the home signs of ten deaf children of hearing parents, arguing that all...

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CHAPTER 13 The Development of Morphology Withoui a Conventional Language Model

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pp. 165-177

The language-learning child in all cultures is exposed to a model of a particular language and, not surprisingly, acquires that language. Thus, linguistic input clearly has an effect on the child's acquisition of language. Nevertheless, it is possible that linguistic input does...

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CHAPTER 14 Gesture in Hearing Mother-Deaf Child Interaction

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pp. 178-186

Among the problems faced by students oflanguage acquisition by deaf children with hearing parents is to explain how they develop gestural systems without sign language input (Lenneberg, 1964; Moores. 1974; Tervoort. 1961). As might be expected, attempts to solve such...

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CHAPTER 15 The Interaction of Gesture and Speech in the Language Development of Two Profoundly Deaf Children

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pp. 187-204

Most deaf children are born into families in which there is no history of hearing impairment. Hence they have no exposure to the manual communication used in the deaf community, and the spoken language used by the hearing community in which they live is inaccessible to them. Even with...

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CHAPTER 16 How Does Gestural Communication Become Language?

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pp. 205-216

The title of this chapter reflects one of the basic questions in language acquisition theory. The study we describe contributes to our understanding of the process through which gestural communication becomes language. Deaf children of hearing parents not exposed...

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PART IV Hearing Children with Spoken and Sign Language Input

In this part, we include two chapters which examine the early gestural communication of hearing children who have deaf parents. Bonvillian, Orlansky, and Folven report on a longitudinal...

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CHAPTER 17 Early Sign Language Acquisition: Implications for Theories of Language Acquisition

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pp. 219-232

During the past 25 years. our understanding of how children acquire language has been considerably expanded by the results of a large number of empirical investigations. Although our knowledge of the language acquisition process has improved. there is as yet no widespread agreement...

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CHAPTER 18 Emergence of Mode-Finding and Mode-Switching in a Hearing Child of Deaf Parents

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pp. 233-246

Since Piaget distinguished between egocentric and social speech in children from 2 to 6 years of age (Bloom & Lahey, 1978), there have been many reports not only that preschool children are able to use the point of view of the listener (ErvinTripp, 1972; Maratsos, 1973; McClure...

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PART V Hearing Children and Deaf Children Compared

In this section, studies comparing deaf and hearing children are reported. Caselli and Volterra analyze the earliest stages of communicative and linguistic development of two deaf children of deaf parents, one American and one Italian, and two Italian hearing children of hearing parents...

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CHAPTER 19 Gesture in Early Chlld Language

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pp. 249-262

When communication is blocked from the oral modality. the manual modality frequently assumes the functional burdens of speech (Kendon. 198Oc). Elaborate signed systems resembling spoken language in many crucial aspects have been observed to arise in a number of situations...

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CHAPTER 20 From Communication to Language in Hearing and Deaf Children

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pp. 263-277

In this chapter, we present the results of two studies previously reported separately (Caselli. 1983a; Volterra. 1981 a). These studies deal with the earliest stages of communicative and linguistic development comparing hearing children exposed to spoken language with deaf...

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CHAPTER 21 Enhancement of Spatial Cognition in Deaf Children

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pp. 278-298

Deaf children who have been deprived of auditory experience and who rely on a sign language as their principal mode of communication provide a privileged testing ground for investigating...

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pp. 299-303

A comparison of the chapters included in this volume leads us to conclude that there are the following points of agreement among the authors...


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pp. 304-322

Subject Index

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pp. 323-335

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682261
E-ISBN-10: 1563682265
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563680786
Print-ISBN-10: 1563680785

Page Count: 358
Publication Year: 2002